Non-Caving Activities

— East of Convention —

BEAR HEAVEN [8]

Bear Heaven is a small National Forest campground and scenic area located on the headwaters of Otter Creek that contains large sandstone boulders, tall sandstone “canyons,” and sandstone caves. It is about ten miles east of Elkins and can be reached by following U.S. 33 east from Elkins, turning north onto the dirt road at the top of Shavers Mountain, turning left when the road divides, and then looking for the park on the left.

GPS: 38.92982, -79.73088 (Campground)

BICKLE KNOB FIRE TOWER LOOP ROAD [9]

There was at one time a Forest Service fire tower located on top of Bickle Knob. There is a picnic area here now, with an excellent view to the north. The area is located on Forest Service Road 91, which departs old U.S. 33 in the area of Stuart Run Recreational Area. There is a junction: go up the mountain, not down the river (which is a very scenic drive in its own right). The road leads north to the old fire tower location, eastward to Bear Heaven, and finally south and back to Route 33 at the top of Shavers Mountain. Following Route 33 west and down the mountain will lead to old Route 33, Bowden Cave, and the Bowden Fish Hatchery. All told, the loop is about 16 miles long and makes an excellent scenic drive or mountain bike tour. The area is located about ten miles east of Elkins on U.S. 33.

GPS: 38.9345, -79.7314 (Fire tower)

BOWDEN FISH HATCHERY [10]

The Bowden Fish Hatchery is located on the Shavers Fork of the Cheat River about eight miles east of Elkins. It is on old U.S. 33, and is a great place to take the kids and let them look at the trout.

GPS: 38.91092, -79.71534 (Hatchery)

OTTER CREEK WILDERNESS [11]

The Otter Creek Wilderness is a very popular, 20,000-acre area located along the wooded valley of Otter Creek that offers opportunities for day hiking, backpacking, fishing, and swimming. A good trail follows the creek (wading the creek is required), and there are also side trails that provide good loop hiking and camping. Because the area is designated a wilderness, its trail signs have been removed, and its trails and shelters are not maintained.

To reach the downstream part of the Wilderness, drive north on U.S. 219 to Parsons, then east on State Route 72 to Hambleton and Hendricks. Follow the Dry Fork of the Cheat upstream for about four miles and look for the trail head and bridge on your right.

To reach the upstream part of the Wilderness, drive east on U.S. 33 from Elkins. Turn left onto a dirt road at the top of Shavers Mountain, bear right at a fork located about one mile from the paved road, and park where the road ends. This is only about ten miles east of Elkins. The area is located on the Harman, Mozark Mountain, Bowden, and Parsons USGS 7.5-minute topographic maps.

GPS:

39.04568, -79.60683 (Northern parking area)
38.94134, -79.66872 (Southern parking area)